The Internet is an information superhighway. We can acquire knowledge about any and every topic we can think of, at will. The tech highway, however, runs both ways and we often and not always consciously share large amounts of our personal data on the Internet. From pictures of our pets to online banking passwords, we are feeding information to the web on a daily basis. But is it safe? The websites we access all claim to protect our personal data; what could possibly go wrong? Well, a whole lot if you are not careful about protecting your own information.
Internet safety tips
If you access your bank account online, do a lot of online shopping, share pictures online or download a lot of apps to your mobile devices, then some caution is advised. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands leading to potentially disastrous consequences.
Have strong passwords: Your password is your first line of protection for your information on any website; make sure you choose a good one. A strong password is one that uses both upper and lower case characters, mixes in letters with numbers, and even special characters like an asterisk or the hashtag symbol.
Use a VPN: When using a public WiFi network, there is no guarantee of the network’s security. Your laptop or mobile device could be left vulnerable to malware or virus attacks when connected to a public network. To prevent this from happening, invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which provides you with a secure network wherever you go.
Keep sensitive data safe: Never share your passwords with anyone, especially your online banking or other financial website passwords. Also, be cautious about the kind of pictures you share online. Snapchat and Instagram stories are supposed to last for only a short time but nothing really disappears from the Internet. The last thing you want is for the wrong person to get their hands on your information and use it against you.
Click safely: Be careful about the links you click on and what you download. If your system has an anti-virus software and firewalls in place, they will warn you about suspect links. Take these warnings seriously and avoid such websites or downloads.
Download safe apps: When downloading apps to your mobile device, make sure they are from a reliable source like App Store or Google Play.
Protect your mobile devices: While your laptop might be well-protected, your mobile devices might be left open to attacks. Ensure the security of all your tech devices with an anti-virus software.
Https vs http: For any online financial transactions, make sure the URL contains https. That little 's' at the end stands for secure and this means that all data sent to that site is encrypted. If the site is just http, there is always a possibility of a third party accessing that data.
Software updates: As an added security measure, update all your software regularly, especially your anti-virus and firewalls. Online threats are constantly evolving to find new ways to attack systems and our systems need to be equally prepared to counter the threat.
Backup data: As a final safety measure, it is always a good idea to back up your data regularly. In the unfortunate circumstance that your system has been compromised, at least you can rest easy knowing that you haven’t lost tons of data. In the event of a malware or virus attacking your system, make sure to block all your online accounts till the problem is sorted out.
When it comes to online security, be smart, be cautious, and teach your children to do the same.